Dr Alastair Leake, FRAgS MBPR CEnv
Alastair is Director of Policy and Public Affairs for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and runs the Allerton Project, a research and demonstration farm in Leicestershire, where high yield farming and exceptional levels of biodiversity co-exist. He has a BSc in Horticultural Science from Reading University and a PhD in Organic and Integrated Farming Systems from Leicester University, and prior to employment with GWCT, he worked for The Co-operative Farms for 20 years. Alastair has been a member of several committees, including serving 7 years on the Government’s Independent Scientific Advisory Committee for Pesticides (ACP). He is an accomplished speaker and has given evidence before the European Parliament and both the House of Commons and House of Lords Select Committee Enquiries. He is BASIS Registered, a Chartered Environmentalist, an Honorary Fellow of NIAB, and was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Agricultural Society of England in 2010 for his contribution to the development of sustainable farming systems.
Derek is based in Warwickshire and has been Managing Director of Sandfields Farms (part of The Shropshire Group) since 2007. Sandfields Farms is an intensive farming business growing salads and vegetables on over 3,000 acres for the major retailers, and employing more than 1,000 staff across Warwickshire and Kent. Coming from a family farm, Derek has been involved in farming all his life. He studied Agriculture at Harper Adams University and graduated in 1989. In 2011, he set up the West Africa Farms business in Senegal, which he continues to oversee.
Ron is Head of Agronomy Knowledge Transfer and Training within NIAB TAG. He joined Morley Research Centre as an Agronomist in 2000 and then worked for TAG as an Agronomist and Research Project Manager in both the East Anglia and Cotswold offices. Ron has a degree in Applied Biology from Liverpool and a Masters Degree in Crop Production from Essex. He has previously worked in the Ag-chem industry, the commercial seed trade and in the development of speciality and industrial oilseed crops. Research interests are ostensibly in the area of farming systems and soils research. Ron manages the NIAB TAG research portfolio in this area and has delivered a wide range of material on this subject both nationally and internationally.
Emma is Head of Technical at G’s Growers Ltd, leading the company’s strategic vision for technical standards and innovation; this includes managing G’s R&D programme covering salads and alliums. Soils research including information systems is a key priority area within G’s innovation strategy and is reflected in the work programme. Emma works closely with the research community to deliver the appliance of science to growers and has previously worked as a Research Technical Manager. She has a degree in Biological Sciences (Botany) and MSc in Horticulture. Emma is a Nuffield Scholar, is BASIS and FACTS qualified and has also worked as an independent vegetable agronomist.
Rob is an experienced operations manager/director specialising in the fresh produce industry. He is Head of Fruit & Vegetable Operations at Farmcare Trading Ltd dealing with over 40,000 acres of land across a range of disciplines. Rob graduated from Harper Adams in 2001 in Agriculture and spent eight years working with the Shropshire Group (G’s), experiencing every facet of the business from growing to packing. He joined The Co-operative Group in 2008 which sold Farmcare Ltd to The Wellcome Trust in August 2014, initially working as Head of Vegetable Operations before taking on his current roles. He is also Director of Management Development Services (MDS) Ltd’s 2-year post-graduate scheme in the agricultural/horticultural industry.
Philip is an Agricultural Engineer having trained at Silsoe in the late 1970's. He subsequently worked as Technical Director at Simba, until forming his own business as an independent advisor on cultivations and soil structure in 2007. Currently, Philip's clients include farmers and agronomists in the UK and overseas (including Russia, Ukraine, Hungary and New Zealand), together with CMI Limited, the HGCA, ADAS, Natural England, BASF, Bayer, Agrii and Frontier. He also assists clients on machinery design and application in the UK and overseas, including Simba Great Plains, Vaderstad, Lemken, Tillso, Michelin and John Dale Drills. Philip is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and the British Society of Soil Science.